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Why You NEED to Disagree With Clients


If you want to win the trust of your clients, disagree with them.

Tom Denari, in his article on Ad Age, says “After two decades in this business, I’ve come to conclude that one of the most important pillars of a productive client-agency relationship — or, heck, maybe any relationship — is disagreement.”

Yes, you read that right. Clients want you to disagree with them and here’s why…

Because your client is surrounded by all these “yes” people, your disagreement comes as a breath of fresh air.

Your clients, the true buyers in an organization, are surrounded by people that will say “yes” to them all day, every day.

These are employees or managers sitting below your buyer on the ladder.

They are scared to go up against their boss imagining that they will receive a harsh verbal whipping.

Because your client is surrounded by all these “yes” people, your disagreement comes as a breath of fresh air.

You see, clients aren’t hiring you to have their ego stroked or to be right. They hire you because they want to see a specific result and value.

And if you see a better way to reach that outcome, even if it goes against what your client suggests, speak up and let them know.

Disagreeing with your client builds trust.

What’s important is that you remember that you may not be right all the time as well. And so the conversation and disagreement may go back and forth – however, the goal should always be to reach the result and provide the value your client hired you for.


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12 thoughts on “Why You NEED to Disagree With Clients

  1. Yes as independent consultants, or technicians, or marketers we have a certain distance from clients-so when they insist you focus exclusively on one strategy, and you can see the folly of this – I think we should bloody well tell them why, and suggest our more enlightened plan – for sure.

  2. Vadim says:

    Well, it is a very good point. However, my own experience shows that there must be a balance between agreement and disgreement. Consultants don’t have to be too aggressive in disagreeing, imho

    • Vadim – indeed. I’m not suggesting anyone be aggressive. Simply that always agreeing with clients is bad practice.

    • jules says:

      Good point,a balance is best ! Especially being a Security Consultant where clients appreciate honesty because you are addressing their needs and concerns and means to resoultion will often conflict with what they think or believe ! Very important about the way you disagree as

  3. Venugopal S Nair says:

    The disagreement should be based on what you see and feel is right. The opinion should be a learned one. Disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing could even backfire.

  4. George Opiyo says:

    I have disagreed on several occasions with my clients,and got called to do the job.As long as the disagreement is backed with solid conviction by the consultant that the alternative will deliver superior results and value,then going a head and demonstrate that;it earns respect.

  5. Rohan Bhatt says:

    When we talk of disagreeing with Clients. I have had adverse experiences. There is a new breed of start-ups that have been founded by Young and comparatively inept businessmen who do not take it the same productive and constructive way… Instead they end up becoming defensive and aggressive towards ideas and policies that are potentially catastrophic for their business. This is a picky situation and I have started to simply avoid doing business with such fools.

  6. Cheers for that, I agree with the finger picking theory!

    You can check out my blog over at about marketing consulting

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